Health Care Without Harm – Southeast Asia (HCWH-SEA) Condemns gang rape of “Florence”

Health Care Without Harm (HCWH) is an international coalition of more than 470 organizations in 52 countries, working to transform the health care sector worldwide, without compromising patient safety or care, so that it is ecologically sustainable and no longer a source of harm to public health and the environment. Visit the HCWH website for more information.
13 October 2010
HCWH-Southeast Asia Press Release
Sonia G. Astudillo (02) 9287572

Envi-health group condemns nurse gang rape incident

Calls it a chronic disease

Manila — Health Care Without Harm-Southeast Asia (HCWH-SEA) condemns the gang rape of a volunteer nurse in South Upi Maguindanao and calls on the government to provide tighter security to volunteer health workers in far-flung communities.

“If we cannot provide jobs, good working condition or a just pay, we must at least provide them with a secure work atmosphere,” said Merci Ferrer, Executive Director of HCWH-SEA. “These nurses have gone out of their way to volunteer their services, the least we can do is take care of them the way they are taking care of the people in the community.

Rape victim “Florence” is among the volunteer nurses under the Nurses Assistance for Rural Services (NARS) program. The program provides P8,000 monthly stipend to each nurse and is subsidized by the labor department and implemented by the Department of Health (DoH) in Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi and Marawi City.

The group likewise calls the utter disrespect for health workers “a chronic disease” that needs to be treated soon.

“We need an awareness campaign to elevate the status of health workers—nurses, midwives, barangay health workers—in the society. We need to recognize their contribution in every barangay,” said Ferrer.

“Nowadays when nurses are choosing greener pastures abroad, we need to give tribute to those who stay and choose to serve the community,” Ferrer added. “We do not just give them a plaque of appreciation. We give them our outmost respect.

Between 1994 and 2003, around 85,000 Filipino nurses went abroad while 3,000 doctors left the country as nurses from 2000 to 2005 and an additional 3,000 enrolled in nursing schools in 2006.

“Health workers, nurses included, serve the communities in different ways. The most common way is working in a health facility. But there are those who choose to volunteer in far-flung communities where health services are scarce. They are to be honored. They may not bring in the remittances but their services are directly felt by the people.”

“We enjoin other health workers and other health groups locally and internationally to support the call for justice for “Florence” and for just treatment for all health workers.”


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